Atlanta to continue tradition of impacting SBC host cities
By James Dotson
ATLANTA (BP)--One of Southern Baptists' strongest, if recent,
traditions surrounding their annual meeting has been Crossover -- a short-term
evangelistic blitz allowing convention messengers to lead thousands to faith in Christ
during their convention visit. This year, Crossover organizers hope the June 6-19 impact
will be stronger than ever -- incorporating time-tested methods such as block parties,
door-to-door visits and inner-city evangelism as well as such innovative approaches as a
citywide family celebration and youth concert in Centennial Olympic Park. Because
Crossover is a part of the five-month Arms Around Atlanta evangelism and church-starting
effort, the overall impact promises to be that much greater.
Although this year's Crossover will be different from last year's effort in
Mormon-dominated Salt Lake City, Joel Harrison, director of missions for the Atlanta
Baptist Association, said the need for the good news of Jesus Christ is no less urgent.
"The typical challenge that we have in Atlanta is the
perception that Atlanta is not a mission field," he said. "But they don't
realize the statistic that approximately 60 percent of the people in the metro area are
unchurched." Crossover events are planned throughout the metro area, from the suburbs
to the inner city. The bulk of the activities will occur on June 12, the Saturday before
the convention, but other efforts -- including preliminary follow-up with those who
respond -- will be held the week before and the week after.
A part of the effort again this year will be a Prayover event on
June 11, in which teams of prayer warriors will walk through targeted areas praying for
the people and the decisions to be made. As in past years, the approach has been to offer
local associations and churches a menu of possible evangelistic projects from which to
choose for their area, noted Don Smith, an associate in event evangelism for the North
American Mission Board and coordinator for Crossover. Among the most popular and effective
activities have been neighborhood block parties, where an atmosphere of fun and food in
local parks creates opportunities for volunteers to share their faith, and door-to-door
visits, which provide a dual opportunity for assessing community needs and offering a
Inner City Evangelism (ICE), which has provided a significant
portion of decisions registered during Crossover events the past several years, also will
be central to the effort. A special ICE team of trained witnesses, in cooperation with
local churches, will both train others and witness in some of the most depressed
neighborhoods in the city. Others will be deployed as musicians, puppet teams and
magicians on city streets, creating opportunities for sharing their faith. Still others
will ride public transportation, engaging fellow travelers in conversation about Christ
during one of the few points in their day where they might have time to chat.
For the second year in a row, Crossover this year also will include a large student
contingent. Hundreds of college students will come in solely to practice evangelism in a
variety of Crossover venues, and evangelist Kelly Green's
Frontliners ministry will involve about 350 high school students in evangelistic crusades
at each of two local churches.
The Family Fest '99 event in Centennial Olympic Park promises to
be one of the largest Crossover events, including a variety of large inflatable rides and
other attractions for children and entire families. The park later in the day also will be
the venue for a massive "Gettin' Free" youth event featuring popular Christian
groups Third Day and Smalltown Poets. Backing up all the projects will be a unified media
campaign, conducted as part of the larger Arms Around Atlanta effort, that will place
messages of hope on radio, television, newspapers and billboards.
For more information on becoming a participant in Crossover Metro Atlanta, contact Smith
at (770) 410-6306 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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